How to Build Terraces

If your house is built on a hill and your backyard is too steep for a garden, building a terrace is an option.

Preparing to Build Your Terraces

Terraces can break a long hillside into several smaller steps. Each of the steps is more level than the original hillside and can be easily planted. Terraces are also an environmentally friendly garden solution, slowing and even preventing soil erosion.

Check your city's building codes. You must comply with whatever guidelines your community has in place.

Make an appointment with your utility locator service. You need to know where utilities are buried in your garden before you begin digging.

Decide how many terraces you will need. Measure the height of your slope, or rise, and the horizontal distance, or run, between the top and bottom of the slope. The steeper the slope, the more terraces you will need to keep the land fairly level in between layers.

Building Your Terraces

Start at the bottom of the hill. Dig a trench for your first tier, the more levels you have on your terrace, the deeper this trench should be. Follow the manufacturer's directions for the materials you are using.

Pack and level the bottom of your trench and place your first layer of building materials into the trench.

Dig a trench into the slope so you can build the sides of your terrace. The bottom of this trench must be level with the first trench you dug. You can stop digging when the new trench is 1 inch deeper than the thickness of your building materials.

Place the first timber or layer of materials into the bottom of the trench all the way around the terrace. Pound spikes or pipe sections through holes drilled through the timber or holes in the other building materials. This will safely anchor your terrace.

Layer the next tier of building materials on top of the first layer and use spikes to hold them together. Move soil from the back of the layer to the front until the ground is level. Add another tier of building materials to contain any leveled soil.

Repeat these steps for each level of your terraces. When finished, plant and landscape your new garden.

Things You Will Need

  • Treated wood, bricks, rocks or concrete blocks
  • 18-inch spikes or pipe sections
  • Shovel